Behavioral Modification Therapy

Behavioral modification therapy includes an understanding of the principles - behaviors are learned whether the behaviors are adaptive or maladaptive.

Maladaptive is defined as poorly adapted, or unable to adapt well, to a particular situation, function, or purpose.

Abnormal behaviors usually come from faulty learning experiences. You may learn something that seems confusing or contradictory and fail to take time to find facts that support your learning. This happens to all of us, yet the key to building cognitive behaviors that work is to take time to relearn and verify facts that support the information you have been taught. Behavior also emerges from social learning and conditioning.

Thus, behavioral modification therapy is useful for reforming the way one thinks. When you can change the way you think, it will be easier for you to change your behaviors. Behavioral Modification Therapy includes the process of eradicating maladaptive behaviors by learning new, helpful behaviors.

There have been several behavioral modification techniques used to correct maladaptive behaviors, which have been shown to successfully eliminate undesirable behaviors, e.g. smoking, nail biting, overeating, etc. These same techniques have been used to encourage good behaviors, such as improving study skills, weight loss and building coping skills to manage stress.


The principles of Behavioral Modification involve the processes of strengthening and developing new and appropriate behaviors in addition to eradicating poor behaviors. Any complex behaviors a person demonstrates are learned, shaped and then subject to observable laws. (Krumboltz and Thoresen) (1976)

Rewards and punishment are often used to change behaviors.

Rewards and punishment

Behavior modification involves rewards and punishment. Yet, it is also involves environment, learning consequences from those behaviors, and the anticipating of those consequences resulting from the behaviors.

Some of the information we learn throughout our life is not resulting directly from reinforcers. Rather some of what we learn results from observing others and the consequences of their behaviors or actions as well as their behavioral modeling.

Practically, all of our work behaviors result from the performance of operations, which spawn penalties, costs or similar consequences within its environment. The consequences are also responsible for shaping and controlling our behaviors.

Reducing Anxiety Attacks in CBT

One of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety is to try to pinpoint the thoughts that develop in your mind before the anxiety attacks occur, analyze them and then move to find new ideas to replace the negative thoughts through CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which includes Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Scheme-focused Cognitive Therapy and Paradoxical techniques).


Cognitive behavioral therapy is a focused and problem-solving approach to mental and emotional treatment.

Dr. Aaron T. Beck developed the schemes in 1970. He created this more direct and potent approach in therapy, which became widely used by mental health experts all over the world.

CBT is a solution that allows us to identify our thoughts that produce negative and painful feelings. CBT is also used to identify maladaptive behaviors or reactions. Beck discovered that our most critical problems emerge from our thoughts.

If we change the way we think, including our automatic thoughts, core beliefs and assumptions, we can improve all areas of our lives and control our problems, such as anxiety. Once we change our automatic thinking, assumptions and core beliefs, our emotions and behaviors will change too.

We can use some behavioral techniques and strategies to enhance your treatment outcome. Some of the leading techniques and strategies used to reform thinking include anger management, relaxation training, graduated exposure to feared situations and assertiveness training.

These courses are brief, yet the result of change occurs rapidly.

On a Meta-Analytical scale, Beck determined that because the two main features of CBT include:

Empiricalism - Cognitive Behavioral strategies were used in controlled studies and provided patients with effective treatment for a selection of mental disorders. This treatment plan has effectively helped people overcome depression and anxiety disorders.

Goal-oriented - CBT involves the therapist and patient working together to achieve wellness goals. The therapist will help the patient set goals and monitor him or her to see if the goals are being met.

On a Meta-Analytic Scales, this set of techniques will treat those with:

  • Adult unipolar depression

  • Adolescent unipolar depression

  • Generalized anxiety disorder

  • Panic disorder with/without Agoraphobia

  • Social phobia

  • Childhood depression with anxiety disorders

  • Marital distress

  • Anger

  • Childhood somatic disorders

  • Chronic Pain not include headaches

CBT is practical and concrete

When we set therapeutic goals, it helps us to focus on solving concrete problems. One of the common goals we need to achieve is reducing depressive symptoms or eliminating panic attacks. We may also reduce or eliminate compulsive rituals, hair pulling etc., and decrease procrastination at work while improving relationships with others. We may also reduce social isolation through CBT.


Both therapist and the patient play an active role in CBT. The therapist’s role is to serve as an instructor who teaches the patient or client ways to learn about his or her problems, find solutions to work them out.

Outside of therapy, the client will be expected to practice strategies that he or she has learned in therapy.


The therapist and client works together to understand and develop or produce strategies that address the client’s difficulties or problems.

Short term

CBT is short-term therapy. Thus, if problems exist after CBT training we can analyze your disorder to see if there are other beneficial treatments available to you.

Benefits of CBT

Compared to antidepressant medications, CBT is superior in treating those with adult unipolar depression. People who have entered into CBT and followed it fully have found benefits. In fact, studies show patients of CBT experienced half of the relapses of patients on antidepressant medications.

CBT techniques utilized:

Millions of people every year suffer from some sort of emotional distress simply because they hold misguided and destructive beliefs about themselves and the world around them. These mistaken beliefs either directly or indirectly have an impact on their relationships.

To adjust these destructive beliefs we will consider two effective therapies including CBT itself and CRT (Cognitive Restructuring Therapy). CRT and CBT are two of the most recent therapy approaches. CBT is used as a model to reeducate people. CBT is built on the premise that all behaviors are learned and new behaviors can be learned by replacing harmful or destructive patterns of functioning.

Thus, in this treatment we will teach you the mediation amid your feelings (thoughts) and behaviors. We always think before encountering any emotional reactions to circumstances. As people we often experience emotional distress because of those thoughts, which are often distorted from faulty learning.

Using such approaches, we can place some emphasis on helping you to create your own emotions. We can help you use your abilities to change and conquer the past by focusing on the “here and now”. This will give you the power to improve your moods and implement some alternative behavior patterns.

Thus, we will start our CBT training by addressing the first problem:

Loneliness - addressed using person-focused approach:

Goal - learn better ways to listen and communicate with others:

Most of the problems people experience today emerge from frail relationships. People who are lonely often make two huge mistakes. First mistake: while socializing with others, they tend to think that others are judging them or evaluating them. As a result, they start to believe or feel that they have to impress the person or they feel uptight, which makes it hard for them to feel relaxed or have fun.

Second mistake: because they feel they are being judged or evaluated, when a person may reject them, they consider it “proof” that there are not measuring up - they are failures - and no good or unattractive.

We must correct these mistaken beliefs or wrong conclusions.

Loneliness is a human condition that is unavoidable. In order to deal with loneliness, one must confront and resolve the problem. The first step is to identify the automatic and self-defeating thoughts in each stage.


In the next worksheet write out which of these self-defeating thoughts that apply to you.

Stage 1: I feel alone…”Being alone is miserable.” “Something is wrong with me.” “It is much better to be at home than go somewhere alone.”

Stage 2: Being with casual friends:” “I will look like a fool.” “I am sure that people will laugh at me.” “No one cares about me.” “No one likes me.”

Stage 3: Situations that involve mutual self-disclosure - “I’m not like anyone else.” “People can’t understand me.” “If I told the truth, people would despise me.”

Stage 4: Going on a potential date - “He or she will not like me.” “I cannot approach a man or woman.” “I would feel crushed if he or she turns me down.” “I rather not approach people.”

Stage 5: Feeling intense or getting involved - “I am always screwing up things.” “I cannot stand for someone to dump me again.” If he or she dumps me it is proof that something is wrong with me.” “If people really care, then they have no right to leave me.”

Stage 6: Emotional commitments - “I cannot meet all of his or her needs” “I will lose my true self if I commit to him or her: “I should meet every need he has.” “It would be horrible if we did not love each other equally.

These are all self-defeating thoughts that emerge from poor thinking and mistaken beliefs.


We have approached CBT in a new light by examining your goals, intentions, and your symptoms closely.

Let us know what you think!

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